Sales Prep Part 4: Behaviour and Temperament

Kirsty McCann Dip VN, RVN,
Foran Equine – Equine Nutrition and International Business Development

A well-developed and mannerly yearling will show themselves to their best with a flowing walk and workman like attitude. A purchaser will not be able to make a thorough assessment of an individual if it is unable to stand to be seen and likewise if it is only able to jog and not walk freely.

While consignors will have their tried and tested feeding protocols in place for their preps, it is not unusual to have one individual that will require special consideration for their nutritional requirements based on their temperament. When feeding the excitable yearling the first port of call is to reduce their starch and sugar intake. Enzymes in the small intestine quickly break down starch and sugar into glucose, which is then rapidly absorbed and used as fast release or instant energy source.  Feeding diets high in starch and sugar may exacerbate undesirable behaviour in nervous or excitable individuals. In these situations, a low starch concentrate feed such as Connolly’s RED MILLS Horse Care 14, which provide controlled energy release from a unique blend of super fibres and cereals, is recommended.

Consideration can also be made when choosing a forage to feed your yearlings in prep, having your forage analysed will provide you with an accurate picture on both sugar content and digestible energy. Knowing whether you have an early or a late cut hay gives valuable information, early cut hay will be higher in digestible energy, protein, starch and sugar in comparison to a later cut hay.

The inclusion of a calmer in the diet may also be warranted for highly-strung individuals and those that may find the sales experience a little overwhelming. While there is an abundance of calmers available on the market ranging from those containing herbal blends to the more commonly formulated B-vitamin, magnesium and L-Tryptophan combinations, it is an exercise in finding one which works best for the individual in question.

Foran Equine Nutri-Calm Gel and Syrup contains B-vitamins, which play an important role in the synthesis of neurotransmitters in the central nervous system, magnesium for muscle relaxation, regulating cardiac rhythm and nerve signaling and L-Tryptophan an essential amino acid and the precursor to serotonin. Serotonin, a neurotransmitter, is commonly referred to as the ‘happy hormone’. It is associated with the inhibition of fear or stress and plays a vital role in tempering anxiety and nervous tension. It is advisable to start supplementation in the weeks coming up to sale.

Additional articles:

Sales Prep Part 1: Skeletal Development

Sales Prep Part 2: Conditioning Muscle & Topline

Sales Prep Part 3: Coat Condition